Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No N-BAF for SA

Posted on Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 12:20 PM

By Greg Harman

Dr. Mr. Red McCombs,

Can we imagine Texas losing a fight to Kansas or Mississippi? Why, yes we can.

After all the obscene salesmanship by our elected leaders for a project best performed deep in bunker somewhere (or, perhaps, offshore where such research has historically been done), Homeland Security selected Manhattan, Kansas over San Antonio and four other sites for the massive National Bio & Agro-Defense Facility.

The charge is to study diseases that have no known cure and pass freely between human and non-human kin. Homeland's own risk analysis undertaken only after they had been burned by the U.S. General Accounting Office for failing to take into account potential outbreaks suggested the current study site of Plum Island as the safest bet.

Your hometown daily has been a more than faithful booster of the project. If you missed biz columnist Hendricks on the topic this morning, well, you didn't miss anything new â?? except maybe the reason we're addressing this post to our favorite wheeler-dealer. (Any of those million-dollar keystrokes tied to risk, David?)

We won't feign our regrets here. We only wish that after confirmed domestically (Fort Detrick, no less!) cultured anthrax to Congressional white-letter scares and leaky foot-and-mouth events (commonly known as "outbreaks") outside UK labs, that Homeland would have made security its overriding concern in the site selection criteria, rather than rely on the "community support" and financial incentives that seem to have guided this process from day one.

Study foot-and-mouth in the center of the nation's Concetrated Animal Feedlot country? Really?

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Congressional lawmakers and staff say the federal government will recommend a site in Kansas for a new $450 million laboratory to study biological threats like anthrax and foot-and-mouth disease.

The Department of Homeland Security's choice of Manhattan beat out intense competition from other sites in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

Agency officials revealed their choice to lawmakers late Tuesday.

Lawmakers and staff familiar with the decision spoke only on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement won't be made until later this week, when the agency releases an environmental impact statement.

The choice won't be made final until sometime after a 30-day window for comments on the decision, which could face legal challenges from losing states.

The new lab would replace an aging facility on Plum Island, N.Y.



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